Old Shinobi, New Jutsu
Developed and published by Black Panther, Ninja Arashi 2 offers players an entertaining platform game experience combined with minor RPG elements. It places you back into the shoes of Master Ninja Arashi as he continues his quest to rescue his son. It’s been nearly four years since the first Ninja Arashi game was released, and the sequel manages to remain familiar while also ramping up the difficulty.
The best aspects of Ninja Arashi were the sound design and graphics, and that hasn’t changed with its sequel. The music and ambient sounds are top notch, the stylized graphics are great and the animations are fantastic as well. Some of the dialogue is kind of awkward and Arashi sounds more like a Red Dead Redemption character than a Japanese ninja, but not everything can be a home run.
At the end of the first game, Arashi defeated the main villain, Orochi, only to be immediately frozen by the new big bad Dosu. After 15 years in this state, Arashi is freed by a man named Raven and sent after Dosu to save his son. Despite being a shinobi popsicle for a decade and a half, the Master Ninja managed to teach himself a thing or two. Arashi can now use a melee attack when he’s close to enemies, which makes dealing with certain foes a lot easier.
There are also eight artifacts that Arashi can get his hands on to supplement his abilities. Some artifacts only provide cosmetic changes and are thus useless. Others can enhance his critical rate, give him an extra life or allow him to use barriers. The eight artifacts can be found 32 possible locations, which are randomized. So prepare to do a lot of searching.
Fitting for a second installment, the developers made significant changes in Ninja Arashi 2, and this platformer is twice as hard as the original game. In the first title, you could run into Soul Beasts, which dropped orbs of health that gave Arashi an extra life, and orbs of protection, which gave Arashi a temporary barrier to protect him from attacks. You could also find both types of orbs scattered throughout the levels.
Things are different in Ninja Arashi 2. Soul Beasts and orbs of protection no longer exist, and the drop rate of orbs of health have been considerably decreased. In the original game, there were multiple levels with three to four orbs of health. In Ninja Arashi 2, you’re lucky if you find one. And that ability to use gold and diamonds to create your own checkpoints throughout the levels? Yeah, that’s gone too.
Bear traps were in Ninja Arashi and make a return here. If Arashi was caught in a bear trap in the first game, he could still use his shuriken attack and freed himself quickly. In the sequel, bear traps last longer and restrict all of Arashi’s skills. These changes mean players have far less room for making mistakes, so prepare to die a lot.
In very RPG-like fashion, enemies level up and become harder the more you progress in the game. Instead of the standard, relatively harmless swordsmen encountered at the beginning of the game, you’ll begin to run into more skilled foes who can dodge your attacks and use a fast flurry skill on Arashi. Roaming gunmen are replaced by archers who are quicker on the draw. Instead of gunmen hiding in walls, you begin to face bombers lurking in trees or hanging from ledges.
Less Money, More Problems
Speaking of diamonds and gold, the developers have changed those up a little bit too. In the original game, gold gains were pretty spread out, ranging from 30 to 250 gold. In Ninja Arashi 2, I consistently got between 100 and 120 gold per drop. It might seem better, but it’s a step backward in my opinion. It was a bummer to see those 30 or 40 gold stacks, but you’d just as often earn 220 or 240 gold. In Ninja Arashi 2, you always receive the same middling amount of gold, which makes gold farming slower.
Gold still retains a lot of value in Ninja Arashi 2. A couple of disguises can be bought with gold, though not as many as in the first game. Gold and diamonds can be used to purchase revives, as well as perks in the skill system.
Diamond farming has improved. In the first game, Arashi could get diamonds from fallen enemies or containers. In Ninja Arashi 2, you instead earn diamonds by watching ads, but I’m not sure how the system works. One day, I received 400 diamonds and then couldn’t watch more ads. The next day, my diamond count increased by 8000 after watching ads. Regardless, this is an improvement. Rather than farming levels and maybe picking up a hundred diamonds per stage, it’s faster to log in each day, view some ads and collect hundreds or thousands of diamonds.
Diamonds can be used to purchase the most expensive disguises for Arashi. However, you no longer need to use diamonds to upgrade his skills. Black Panther has revamped the relatively rudimentary skill system of the first game, and you’ll want to invest heavily into upgrading Arashi’s skills. That makes the inferior gold grinding in this game a bit of a pain.
Monetization: Fair but Unnecessary
Something you’ll notice right away when you play Ninja Arashi 2 are the ads. Beat a level? Watch an ad. Lose all your lives and want to reset the level? Allow me to introduce you to this awesome new pinball game. Quit to the main menu? There’s this amazing app called Mistplay that I’m sure you’d love to know about.
This game has a ton of ads, and you’ll have to sit through them every couple of minutes. It disrupts the flow of the game in a bad way. Luckily, you can remove them by shelling out two bucks, and Ninja Arashi 2 is easily worth that. And if you don’t want to pay, you can always take a bathroom break or turn on a YouTube video.
The developers have removed the option to buy gold with money even though gold is more important than diamonds and more difficult to farm. The diamond packages are reasonably priced, but I still can’t sign off on them. Plenty of diamonds will be coming your way just from watching ads, and I find that microtransaction purchases in single-player games like this are almost always unnecessary. Sure, Ninja Arashi 2 is a great game, but it’s more a game that you’ll take out occasionally rather than every day.
The final Act of this platforming ninja game hasn’t been released yet, but Ninja Arashi 2 has my seal of approval. The 60 stages currently in the game provide a reasonable amount of challenge. It’s difficult, but not the cheap kind of difficult. If things are too hard for you, try the first game out. It is a lot easier to beat.
Is It Hardcore?
Ninja Arashi 2 is more challenging than the original and, despite a few missteps here and there, the better game overall. The ads are a little annoying but can be removed for a fair price. The developers listen to player feedback and make improvements to the game accordingly.